Monday, October 23, 2006

The Rural Idyll

It’s now over one hundred and fifty years since the majority of us here in Britain ceased to be country dwellers. Despite this, we still have this romantic yearning for images of young girls in pristine smocks, feeding ducks in front of rose-covered, thatched cottages. Unfortunately these bucolic charms are now reserved for greetings cards. [This image is dedicated to all those ex PRS pupils now living in the far-flung reaches of the globe.]

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Autumn Colours II

Fly agaric (Amanita Muscaria) – this one has managed to lose most of its spots pushing up through the grass. Although widely held to be poisonous it has been reported to have been extensively used throughout history, most notably by the Berserkers to produce their great rages before going into battle. The symptoms have been reported as:

The eyes became savage, the face bloated and red, the hands trembled and the individual danced or rushed about until exhausted when he apparently slept. But he then experienced more hallucinations. This could then be replaced by another spasm of over activity followed by more hallucinations and fantasy.’

For those of you wondering if there is a PRS link, I’m pretty sure this is what Drake monitors were on in 1958, particularly first thing in the morning when they burst uninvited into my room screaming abuse and forcibly tipping me out of bed.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Autumn Colours.

Summer has gone, but here in the UK many trees still seem reluctant to shed their leaves and the traditional russet hues are not always easy to find. Are the seasons changing………?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

in gratitude...

...and in remembrance, I send you all a flower...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Do you remember Rome 1960

DESPITE walking with a purposeful stride, Don Thompson, bespectacled and only 5ft 5in, did not have the appearance of an Olympic champion. He looked like the insurance clerk that he was. However, in 1960, he won Britain’s only athletics gold medal of the Rome Olympics and fascinated people with his determination and novel training routine.
Thompson’s victory in the 50km walk also captivated the Italians, who nicknamed him Il Topolino (the little mouse). Although the gold medal was the zenith of a lifetime in sport, he continued competing seriously for a further 40 years, becoming Britain’s oldest athletics international when he raced in a 200km event in France in 1991, aged 58 years and 89 days.
He was devoted to athletics, rising daily at 4am even in his seventies to walk or run eight miles before starting work as a self-employed gardener. His only worry was that one day he might oversleep. He completed more than 150 marathons, with a best time of 2hr 51 min. Thompson once said: “I suppose I’m obsessive. But occasionally, when I am training or racing, I have an incredible feeling, a tingling in my scalp, as if my head is about to take off. It’s pure exhilaration, like hearing the Brandenburg Concertos for the first time.”
Donald James Thompson was brought up in Hillingdon, and was a runner until an Achilles tendon injury in 1951 forced him to try walking. He first became prominent in the 1954 London to Brighton race, finishing second. The following year, he won the first of a record eight successive victories in the event and, in 1956, he went to the Melbourne Olympics, but collapsed at 45km because of dehydration. When the Rome Olympics came four years later, Thompson was more thoroughly prepared.
To reproduce the heat of Rome, he placed a paraffin heater in his parents’ bathroom and put a recently boiled kettle on top. Then, wearing a track suit, he would exercise in temperatures of 110F (43C). He recognised later that his faintness during these sessions was caused not so much from the heat but from inhaling carbon monoxide.
For the Olympics his mother made a hat similar to a foreign legionnaire’s képi, with a handkerchief attached to the back of the cap that stretched over his neck. Two of the early leaders were disqualified for “lifting” and two others could not stand the pace and, although challenged by John Ljunggren, of Sweden, he won by 17 seconds. He described his feeling when crossing the line as being “smugly happy”.'[
Sadly he died of a brain aneurism on Oct 4th in Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.
I can still recall seeing him striding into the stadium with the hat with handkerchief ... and for next few weeks all of my friends were walking in the same manner - folk must have thought we were mad! Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 06, 2006

BFN my part in its downfall.

On moving to Köln I was told our neighbour Alan Grace worked at BFN, but fresh from England it meant nothing to me. A few days later, Alan asked me if I liked Chuck Berry, and I grunted my adolescent affirmation. The next day a box of Chuck Berry records arrived - many with American labels, including some that had not been released outside the States. Most had white labels with ‘not for resale,’ printed across them - however the penny continued to levitate.

A few days later, Alan asked me if I would like to have a look around BFN. For some reason I thought this was something to do with the NAFFI! The result was a revelation. BFN was based in the swishiest part of Köln in a huge house with numerous buildings and courtyards. As a rock n’ roll addict the record library blew me away. What intrigued me most however, were the interview packs for famous singers like Johnny Mathis. These included a set of questions and a LP. The broadcaster asked the questions and then played the requisite track on the LP to get the responses, giving the impression that it was a live interview!

As the BFN disc jockeys were largely into Jazz or Classical, after that I became the proud possessor of virtually every new pop record - often several weeks before it was released. I had ‘Hard Headed Woman,’ by Elvis five months before it came out and that record got me into more parties than you can ever imagine. I met many of the personalities including Chris Howland who paradoxically went on to be a famous German DJ and Bill Crozier who did ‘Two-way family favourites,’ on Sunday lunchtime. I even met Connie Francis who was visiting the US troops–remember her?

Radio requests were never a problem, but even they managed to get me into trouble at PRS. A friend of mine who lived in Köln and who had just left PRS under a cloud got them to play for me – ‘I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent’ by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers. Seems half of PRS heard it and knowing the circumstances most had a good laugh. The Mekon however, nearly fell off his levitating chair and told me that I had once more let the school down and that one day I would come to a sticky end ………I suppose there’s still time….on the other hand perhaps I already have?.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

S.M.S Seydlitz for Dmitri

Laid down 4th February 1911. Launched 30th March 1912. Commissioned 22nd May 1913
Builders Blohm & Voss, Hamburg Germany.
Complement 1070.
Dimensions Displacement 24,320 tons std. 26850 tons max.
Dimensions 657' 8" x 93' 6" Draught 30' 2"
Armament Main guns 10 x 11". Secondary guns 12 x 5.9"
Torpedo tubes 4 x 19.7" Other weapons 12 x 3.46"
Armour Turrets: 9.8" Belt: 11.8" Deck: 3.2" C.T.: 11.8"
Machinery Engines
Marine boilers 27, 4 Marine steam turbines. Power output 67,000shp. Shafts 4.
Speed 26.5Kts. Range 4,200NM @ 10kts.
Seydlitz was hit by 22 heavy shells and 1 torpedo at Jutland.
Scuttled 21st June 1919 at Scapa Flow.
She was raised in November 1928, and towed to Rosyth for scrapping in 1930.

It's that time again

One for Diane - yes it is mushy pea and mint sauce time - Goose Fair! Pity we don't have a smell function - have to imagine the hot dogs and onions and candy floss and all the other goodies.... Posted by Picasa

Life with a bent barrel

Perhaps because of perversity, or alternatively encounters with receptionists in Kazakhstan I’m returning to our earlier theme of nautical disaster. This one is for Graham and does have a Wilhelmshaven, as well as for me a personal connection.
SMS Seydlitz was a 25,000 ton battlecruiser, built at Hamburg, and named after a Prussian general .
Despite taking tremendous damage Seydlitz survived several epic sea battles (particularly encounters with HMS Lion on which my uncle served), and was always considered a lucky ship .
Seydlitz was heavily damaged in the battle of Jutland after being hit by twenty-one shells and one torpedo and suffering 98 men killed and 55 injured. She shipped 5,000 tons of water, reducing her freeboard to almost nothing, but made it back to port. Seydlitz survived more damage that any other German Captial Ship during WWI, a testament to the incredibly strong design of German Battlecruisers. Damage shown was incurred at the Battle of the Skagerrak. The Seydlitz was eventually scuppered at Scapa Flow

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

He’s got your number!

Seems his name is on the back.

Howe Boy takes a dictatorial approach.

Some argue that the electronic office began with the advent of the IBM PC in the early 80’s. This shot of Howe Boy taken in 1961 suggests that the age of electronic wizardry had perhaps already begun. As well as a rearguard attempt to inject a PRS flavour into the current trends for birdlife and tortured metal this photo is posted especially for one of our ladies who back in July indicated that this young man would have been on her ‘crush pin’ list.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Floating Bomb or don't smoke on a tanker

Norwegian tanker after an explosion whilst cleaning her tanks in the Indian ocean. Although severely damaged with half her port side blown out she managed to steam a 1,000 miles under her own power to the Singapore Naval Dockyard which had the only dry dock big enough to take her in the far east. Picture taken as she was being pulled into dry dock by tugs.
The last picture taken when she was in the dry dock shows the enormous amount of damage, if you look closely you can see the dockyard workers inside the hull giving scale to the extent of the damage.

Look Where Your Going

Australian carrier Melbourne in Singapore Naval Base after collision with an American Destroyer which was cut in half and sank within 5 minutes. Melbourne was launching aircraft at the time so would have been steaming at close to 30 knots, nobody knew why but the Destroyer suddenly turned across the path of the Melbourne, speculation was that the Destroyer had a steering gear failure. Taken 05-05-1969

PRS Boys window shopping.

In an attempt to get away from the barnacles and stanchions, to make no mention of the groynes– this one is for Graham. Taken outside the NAFFI in Köln

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Airlines deny in-flight drinking has deleterious side effects.

Shock sightings by a Saga group over the Swiss Alps have once more prompted airlines to strenuously deny that in-flight drinking can have deleterious side effects. BA say our in-flight drinks are incredibly good value and we always recommend our customers wear elasticated underwear. A spokesperson for the budget airlines said ‘it is not true to say that we charge extra for such sightings……….’